April 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Markowski

Scott Sheckell's tenure as Groves coach has controversial conclusion

Senior guard Josh McFolley has transferred to Mount Clemens to Detroit Western, as has his teammate, forward Gerald Blackshear. (Ricardo Thomas / Detroit News)

Birmingham — Scott Sheckell resigned as boys varsity basketball coach at Birmingham Groves two weeks ago. More communication between Sheckell, his administrators and parents might have led to a better solution.

Sheckell said he was forced to resign, and one reason he was given by school administrators was that he didn’t communicate with one parent who had issues with Sheckell’s coaching.

Groves athletic director Tom Flynn did not return a phone message left by The Detroit News. However, he did write in a text message: “I accepted his resignation and that is my only comment.”

A basketball coaches’ forum, sponsored by the Horatio Williams Foundation, was held Friday at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino and guest speakers included Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley, Michigan assistant Bacari Alexander and Michigan State assistant Dane Fife. A recurring theme throughout the evening was the importance of communication between coaches, administrators, players and parents.

Sheckell, a graduate of Birmingham Seaholm, coached for 11 seasons in the Birmingham school district, the last four as varsity head coach. He is also a teacher in the school system and knows the community well.

Groves is not considered a powerhouse in boys basketball in Oakland County, and never has been since the school opened in 1960, so the program doesn’t generate the publicity a program like Clarkston does, for example. That’s not to suggest the program hasn’t been competitive at times.

Groves won a Class A district title in 2013 and this season finished 2-12 in the White Division of the Oakland Activities Association. In 2012 Groves won a division title.

But Sheckell’s resignation wasn’t the result of wins and losses. He said he was asked to resign following complaints by a parent who did not like the manner in which his son was being used by Sheckell.

Sheckell said the parent had harassed him with text messages the past two years, and that when those messages were shown to administrators, no action was taken. Sheckell said he had “no power to discipline” the player.

“Over my 11 years I’ve had complaints from parents but nothing we couldn’t work out,” Sheckell said.

John Hall is in his 15th season as the boys basketball coach at Rochester Adams, a member of the OAA Red Division. He also was an assistant football coach at Adams for 10 seasons (1995-2006). Hall said he doesn’t think the problems that arise between parents and coaches is “sport specific,” that it exists in all sports. Hall said he has also seen an increase in parent-coach difficulties over the years.

“I try to remain open-minded,” Hall said. “There has to be a line of communication. The parameters you set before the season are important. Most coaches have a 24-hour rule. Parents aren’t allowed to talk to coaches for 24 hours after a game. Win or lose, emotions are high after a game and there needs to be a cool-down period. Some coaches don’t like to talk to parents. I have a parent committee, four or five sets or so, who help plan the season with parent night, senior night and so on. The more involved parents are the more they’re satisfied.”

Sheckell said he has had offers to join other teams in Oakland County as an assistant coach but hasn’t decided when he will get back into coaching.

Baseball, at last

After 10 postponements and just three practices outdoors, West Bloomfield played its first game last Wednesday and finished the week winning three of its five games within the Oakland County Tournament held at Madison Heights Bishop Foley and Rochester high schools.

West Bloomfield split a pair on Saturday defeating Rochester 10-0 and losing to Grand Blanc 10-5.

Coach Eric Pierce is in his fourth season at West Bloomfield and expectations are high after his team finished 18-11 last year.

West Bloomfield returns seven starters plus two transfers, brothers Dazon and Deshawn Cole, from Pontiac. Dazon, a shortstop and pitcher, committed to Central Michigan and Deshawn, a junior, plays second and third base, and pitches.

“All in all I’m pleased with the start,” Pierce said. “We have a ton of talent. We wanted to get some games in before the start of our league and not being able to practice much showed.”

Senior middle infielder Josh Birnberg had a good week with four doubles and a home run, and junior right-hander Zach Allread went four innings in the victory over Rochester.

West Bloomfield will play at Farmington Hills Harrison in the OAA White Division opener at 4 p.m. Monday

Honoring one of the best

Highland Park graduate and West Bloomfield resident Hugh Jewell has been a high school official for four decades and worked five state basketball and four state football finals. For his service and commitment to high school athletics Jewell will receive the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Vern L. Norris Award.

The award is presented annually to a veteran official who has been active in a local officials association, has mentored other officials, and has been involved in officials’ education. It is named for a former executive director of the MHSAA.

Jewell has worked countless games in the Detroit area including numerous Catholic League and Detroit Public School League championship games. Jewell has always been fair in his officiating and, yes, some of his calls aren’t always correct. What’s important is that Jewell never sees himself as bigger than the game, nor does he treat coaches on the sidelines as adversaries.

Jewell will be among the honorees at the MHSAA Officials’ Awards and Alumni Banquet on May 3 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. For ticket information contact the MHSAA at 517-332-5046.

Western gets transfers

Forward Gerald Blackshear (6-foot-7) and guard Josh McFolley (5-11) have transferred to Detroit Western. Blackshear and McFolley helped Mount Clemens finish 24-2 this season and reach the Class C quarterfinals.

Western coach Derrick McDowell said both have enrolled at Western.

Both will be seniors next year and will be athletically ineligible the first semester per the MHSAA’s transfer rule.

Western was 6-15 last season and all of its players were underclassmen. Despite its record Western was expected to contend for the PSL title next season before Blackshear and McFolley transferred.

“The thing about it is, I’ll have to go against my style and play uptempo," McDowell said. “I like to have control. I’ll have to loosen up a bit with this group.”

Cancer awareness comes to Comerica

Rochester Adams baseball coach Jeff Hall and former Adams coach, Chuck
VanRobays, have organized a Coaches vs. Cancer Baseball Game to be played May 1 at Comerica Park at 7 p.m. Adams will play Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.

Both teams will wear special jersey to bring awareness to cancer research, and T-shirts and wrist bands will be sold to raise additional funds.

For ticket information contact Hall at JHall1@rochester.k12.mi.us.

tom.markowski@detroitnews.com

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